Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A word on ethics

You may have been following news coverage of a terrible building collapse in Bangladesh. The Rana Plaza building housed five clothing factories as well as a bank and shops. The day before the collapse, inspectors had requested immediate evacuation after discovering large cracks in supporting columns. The bank and shops evacuated, but the garment factories continued production as usual.

More than 380 people have been confirmed dead, more than a thousand seriously injured and 900 more unaccounted for as rescue attempts have ceased. More than half the 3,122 people in the building were women, and some were children in a workers' creche in the building.

Australian clothing brands known to manufacture in Bangladesh include Target, Big W, Kmart, G-Star, Adidas, Duchamp and Cotton On. (My Big W 'work pants', aka pyjama pants, are made in Bangladesh.) Two brands known to be manufactured in the Rana Plaza are Mango and Benetton.

As a shopper and blogger of 'bargains' I feel dirty and complicit in the terrible working conditions that lead to such disasters. I've even commented uneasily about the conditions that enable super-cheap clothing. It's easy to take the moral high ground and say, "Well, I won't be shopping there any more!" or "I won't buy cheap clothes!" or "I'll only buy locally made clothes", but the situation is not that simple.

Some clothing companies deliberately obscure their supply chain so consumers won't know where the garments are made. Sometimes, they're not actively deceptive but simply don't know where the clothes are made because they rely on a network of contractors and subcontractors and don't always have a representative on the ground. Supply chains are really, really long – just see how many people it takes to produce a can of Coke.

Consumer pressure is mainly about making you feel good. It's unions, NGOs and governments who can more effectively agitate to prevent more such tragedies. For instance, the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which remained the deadliest event in New York City until September 11, led to extensive labour law reform. Workers in Bangladesh have already been striking and picketing the Garment Makers' Association, with a list of five key demands for change. You can also sign a petition to help pressure the Bangladeshi government.

I will certainly be much more circumspect from now on about sharing bargain clothes with you. As I wrote, "Don't treat them disposably; wear them often and in the long term, as the building blocks of your wardrobe."

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spy equipment at Aldi

Want to make a clandestine video recording of a meeting or interview? Work for a TV current affairs program? Into the idea of violating privacy laws?

Well at Aldi you're in luck! This HD camera pen has 4GB of memory and can be operated at the touch of a button. The lens is just above the clip, so you can clip it in your pocket or bag for the best angle. I'm not sure if or how well it works as a pen.

Honestly I am surprised to see this advertised. It's on sale from Saturday 27 April.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Free IKEA hot dog on Friday!

If you're in Melbourne, IKEA Richmond is giving out free hot dogs this Friday, 21 March.

It's ten years since the store opened.

One hot dog per person, while stocks last. I don't exactly think there'll be a run on the hot dogs on a Friday, and in the aftermath of the horse meatball scandal, but anyway, store hours are 10am-9pm. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

All for onesies, and onesies for all!

I'm pleased to see that freelance work pants, aka 'sleep pants', are currently $4 at Big Dubs, unlike the extravagant $5 I paid last year. I have three pairs of these pants and they do hard duty as sleepwear and workwear. I might invest in some more.

However! I was super-excited to learn that Big Dubs is now selling 'sleep suits' – aka, ONESIES! I'm not sure if there's a men's version, but the women's size 8-16 version is $19, as is the girls' size 8-16 version, and the girls' size 1-7 version is $17.88.

As far as onesies go they aren't the most practical. They only button down to the waist, so you'd have to undress completely to use the toilet. They also seem quite tight, which makes me wonder if they would pull awkwardly in the crotch if you're tall.

If you'd prefer regular flannel PJ pants, there are some jaunty polka-dot ones for $9.94, or various prints for $7.96.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Seriously jaunty Big Dubs fashions

Big Dubs' latest catalogue seems calculated to appeal to my tastes for bright colours, crisp silhouettes and bold stripes and spots. Check out the front cover:

You can get a pair of skinny dark-denim jeans for $9, or coloured jeans for $14.98 – but only if you wear size 8-16. If you wear size 18-26 the jeans are $20.

I have tried these jeans on in the past and am sad to report that while the colour range is terrific, none of the sizes look good on me. The straight-sized jeans cut cruelly into my waist, while the plus-sizes are saggy and shapeless, especially in the crotch. Perhaps you'll have more luck.

This is a seriously cute jumper. It's $19. I'm suspicious of the way they've styled it in the pic – I'm not sure if it will be fitted or loose, and how long it will be.

Boat-neck, 3/4 sleeve T-shirts in stripes and plains are $12.92, and short-sleeved T-shirts are $7. There's also a 'boyfriend-fit', round-necked, 3/4-sleeved top with very thick black and white stripes for $14.98, which Big Dubs is calling a rugby top"; but fear not, it has no polo-style collar. I have so many striped T-shirts I will try to resist, but sometimes I think I am beyond help; I recently bought myself a men's striped T-shirt.

Speaking of menswear – and sportswear – my eye was drawn to this 'leather look baseball jacket' for $40. It's probably super trashy, but I kind of like the preppiness of it, and it looks quite plain so you could jazz it up with badges, or if you are a crafty type you could get some of those iron-on or sew-on letters to rep your own imaginary varsity team.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

BB creams at BBig W

Yes, I'm fascinated by BB creams. Of the Western brands I've tried, Rimmel is my favourite: I like that it's SPF25, and it has decent coverage that makes my skin look more even. It's way less greasy on me than the Garnier, although if you have very dry skin you may appreciate the Garnier grease.

Anyway, for a while now I've been looking for an excuse to try Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream.

It trumps Rimmel with SPF30, but all the online reviews I've read suggest the coverage is very sheer – it's more like a tinted moisturiser than a true BB cream. But until 27 February, it's $11.48 (save $4) at Big Dubs, so that's a good excuse to try it.

But since I have become a fan of the Rimmel BB cream, that's on special at Big Dubs as well – $9.74 (save $3). And if you like the Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector, that's $10.42 (save $3).

Monday, February 18, 2013

Introductory offer on fancy London shirts

Recently I was surprised to find a Charles Tyrwhitt catalogue tucked in among the usual supermarket and discount department store junk mail. It's a very high-end purveyor of men's business shirts, ties, suits, etc.

The copy in the brochure ("I believe you cannot buy a better shirt anywhere at any price") was quite charmingly persuasive, because mail-order people just don't pimp their stuff in that formal yet personal voice any more.

The company, I learn, was founded by Nicholas Charles Tyrwhitt Wheeler in 1986, while he was a student at Bristol University. Wheeler came from good establishment stock, having previously been educated at The Dragon School and Eton College. His first job was as a management consultant but the mail-order shirt business proved so successful that he set up a shopfront in Jermyn Street, which is to fancy shirtmakers what Savile Row is to tailors.

Charles Tyrwhitt now has separate websites in the United States and, as of last October, Australia. The offer in the catalogue I received was that for the "next 10 days only", their shirts are only $39.50 (normally $140 or $160).

The shirts come in an appealing range of textures and patterns, and seem to have either regular or cutaway collars. There are classic fit, slim fit or extra slim fit, in either regular or non-iron versions. There is also quite a nice range of 'business casual', casual and polo shirts. All come with a six-month guarantee.

The 'next 10 days bizzo' seems really odd, as how would they possibly know when you received the catalogue? However a search for the fine print reveals that this offer ends at midnight on Saturday 8 June 2013. So no need to rush. Check out the website.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Absorb the savings

My friend Andrew describes his house as 'dank'. It's always damp and things get mildewed really easily. If you have the same problem with excessive moisture, solve it for cheap at Aldi.

From Saturday 16 February, Power Force Moisture Absorber is at Aldi for $3.99 for a 354g tub. It's basically calcium chloride crystals, and they reckon it lasts up to 75 days.

Put a tub under the sink, in bathrooms, basements and garages, on bookshelves, in wardrobes and linen cupboards, and anywhere else that needs to be dry and free of mould and mildew.

This stuff might also come in handy if you drop your phone or other small electronic device in water. The usual advice is to seal it in a bag with dry rice, but these crystals might work too.

Adults own ladders

Sometimes I worry that I am not a functional adult who can fix my own shit. One of the grown-up possessions I do not yet own is a ladder. This means that I am helpless to change smoke-alarm batteries or high-up light bulbs, pick fruit off the trees in my backyard, clean my roof gutters or reach things in high cupboards without dragging chairs around.

But there are some inexpensive ladders at Bunnings that can take me a few steps further up to adulthood. For reaching high shelves, there's a two-step folding ladder for $18.90. This can be tucked in a cupboard or shed, or around the side of the fridge, when not in use.

Of the various higher ladders, I think the best value is the Rhino Dual Purpose Aluminium Ladder at $89. You can use it as a regular A-framed step ladder up to 1.8m, or flip the other side up to make a 3.3m straight ladder for leaning against walls, etc. It takes 120kg.

If you invest in a ladder, you'll get years of use out of it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Green up your house

I find indoor plants very restful. I feel it makes your house look much better. Of course I am too cheap to get a large one, so I have a collection of small, pitiful plants rather than the major green room feature of my dreams, but there are some great garden bargains around at the moment.

At Aldi, 140mm indoor plants are $7.99. You can get (L-R) sago palms (in NSW, Victoria and ACT only), peace lilies, Zanzibar gems and magic beans.

At Bunnings, you can get a 130mm Easy Care Calathea Orbifolia for $8.24. These are quite nice-looking.

It's part of the Easy Care range of indoor plants that are all the same price. I guess it's a lottery which ones you get at various Bunningses.

Bunnings also has 30cm hanging baskets (with liner) for $3.98 and 35cm baskets for $5.36. These would be good if you only have a courtyard or balcony, but would still like some greenery.

And there are 'Grow Your Own' vegetable seedlings for $2.94 (which may include tomatoes, lettuce, capsicums, chilli, beans, peas, carrots, eggplant, sweet corn, silverbeet and zucchini), and 'Flying Start' 70mm perennial plants for $2.97.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

$1 tea is now at Coles

Gotta love a duopoly. If you missed the $1 Twinings 10-pack teabag bargain at Woolworths, it's now on at Coles until next Tuesday, 19 February.

Now, like me, you can crack a Prinny… or, indeed, enjoy your favourite other tea variety. But I just like saying "crack a Prinny".

It's sew good at Lincraft

Have you ever wanted to sew your own clothes or other fabric projects, but baulk at the cost of getting a sewing machine and the hassle of borrowing one?

Well until Sunday 17 February at Lincraft, the Singer Simple 3221 sewing machine, its introductory model, is $179. That seems like a pretty hefty saving to me; it's usually $300.

The machine comes with 21 inbuilt stitches, an automatic needle threader (which is great, because one of the most annoying things I recall about my childhood attempts at sewing was figuring out how to thread the damn thing), adjustable stitch length and a one-step buttonhole function.

It also comes with a three-year warranty and a bonus instructional DVD.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Can't boot this bargain

At Big Dubs right now you'll pay $9.94 for rain boots for the whole family! Men unfortunately only get your bog-standard black knee-high gumboots, but women and kids get ankle boots in a jaunty array of colours.

The women's boots are pictured above (I think the yellow ones are my favourite); they come in sizes 6-10. Kids' boots come in lime green, purple, orange, cobalt blue and yellow, in sizes 10-3.

It might still be boiling hot, but soon enough it'll be raining and you'll suddenly find a hole in your shoe and wish you had taken advantage of this bargain.

NQR opens in Coburg

NQR Grocery Clearance Stores, which you may know as a place where students and poor people go to buy random, weird end-of-line groceries at super-cheap prices, is opening in Coburg. Here's a map.

View NQR Coburg in a larger map

If you're familiar with the area, the mall is set slightly back from Louisa Street with car parking. It's also quite near Coburg station.

Anyway, they have some opening specials and whoever wrote the catalogue copy is really enthusiastic about terrible puns. More so than me! For instance, SPC Pear Halves in Syrup are 69c an 825g can. They say: "Pearfect low prices!" And sour cream and chives flavoured Corn Thins are 79c a packet, about which they say, "No more feeling sour about high costs!"

But what caught my attention was that they have one-litre UHT packs of Zymil Low Fat Milk for 69c each. This represents a 72% saving on the regular retail price. Zymil is an easy-to-digest lactose-free milk.

Be your own Valentine

This time of year the shops are full of 'romantic' tat for Valentine's Day – lingerie, roses and chocolates, mainly. But why give that stuff to someone else when you can give it to yourself, lover?

In particular, I think I might treat myself to some half-price fancy chocs at Woolworths. Guylian heart-shaped Belgian chocolates are $3.99 for 100g (save $4), while a 400g bar of Toblerone is $4.99 (save $5).

Also half price are packs of 10 Borg's frozen spinach and ricotta pastizzi at $2.99 (save $3). I first bought these to serve at my book club meeting, since I am hopeless at actually making hors d'oeuvres, but afterwards I discovered that leftover pastizzi make a delicious lazy dinner. Just pop the damn things in the oven.

What could be an easier Valentine's Day dinner while half-pissed on cheap 'champas'?

Monday, February 11, 2013

I'll drink that for a dollar

I love it when the supermarkets have tea specials, because I can build up a mix-and-match collection of different varieties.

Anyway, Woolworths currently has 10-packs of Twinings teabag varieties for $1 each (save up to $1.12). The last time they had this special I spent around $10 and had an instant tea library to the point where I was ridiculously tailoring my cuppa to the time of day and my mood.

But it's my experience that the popular varieties (eg English Breakfast) sell out very quickly, so get down there to snaffle your favourites.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fancy butter, not-fancy price

I have previously described Lurpak as the 'El Expensivo' butter brand. My housemate buys it at regular price because she has fine tastes, whereas I settle for Mainland Buttersoft.

But my Buttersoft is almost out, and I think I might take advantage of Woolworths' special on Lurpak Spreadable: it's just $3.50 (save a whopping $1.50).

Saturday, February 9, 2013

More sparkling bargains

As I never tire of saying, this is my Summer of 'Champas' and so I perk up when there are sparkling wine bargains to be had. First Choice Liquor has an intriguing 'Sparkling Bundle': a bottle of Grandin Brut NV (which is one of the better French cheapies) plus two bottles of B Francois Blanc de Blancs for $28 (save $14 off the individual bottle prices).

I have never heard of B Francois but it's from the Loire Valley and allegedly has "ripe apple fruit and toasty flavours". This bundle is a very good deal as single bottles sell for $14, or they're at Vintage Cellars for $13.49.

First Choice Liquor also has Pol Clément Blanc de Blancs for $7.26. At that price you don't lose much if you buy it and it turns out to taste terrible. (It's also available at Liquorland for $10.)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Grown-up lunch bags

Don't head off to work with your lunch in an old takeaway container in a plastic bag. What are you – a hobo?

Until 6 February, Kmart has some pretty jaunty neoprene adult lunch totes for $10. They zip up securely and have a carry handle. As well as being easy to carry should your work bag not be large enough to fit lunch in, they'd also be good for preventing those disastrous food-to-paper and food-to-fabric spillages.

There are also more rugged, manly-looking insulated lunch bags for $9 that look like miniature versions of those soft eskies you can get. They look as if they're meant for tradies to take onto construction sites. But I personally think they look pretty ugly.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Beanbags for peanuts

Everyone loves a beanbag! Seductively comfortable… yet nigh-impossible to get up with any dignity. Reading, listening to music, watching movies, bonging on… beanbags are great for many leisure activities.

Anyway, until 6 February Kmart has what it calls 'beanskins' in red, chocolate brown, purple and black, plus an '80s-looking leopard print, for $19. This doesn't include the beans, which are an additional $12 for 100L.

Even if you feel as if you're too sophisticated for a beanbag, they'd make an excellent gift for a kid or a share-housewarming present for a student about to head to uni.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Race through your work

Is your job the pits?

Does your workday feel like it's stuck in second gear?

Do you spend all day longing for a podium finish?*

Well, I have good news for you. I was just flipping through the Officeworks catalogue and noticed the following, hilariously named product: the Bathurst Racer Chair!

Yes, in this chair designed to superficially resemble the driver's seat of a V8 Supercar, you can brmm-brmm your way through your working day. Look at this baby. Swivels like it's on rails.

It comes in blue or red, but we all know that red goes faster. At the bargain price of $129.87, you can be assured they'll be gone in 60 seconds.

*This joke will only make sense once you realise that I used to work in the HWT Towers building in Southbank, where the ground floor reception lobby is known as the 'podium'.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Animal accessories

Round 2 of back-to-school catalogues has hit my letterbox, in case you missed it. Most of the same bargains are still there until the end of January. However, here are a couple more things that caught my eye:

Officeworks has novelty animal-shaped pencil sharpeners for 54c. A cute back-to-school gift, or just something silly to cheer yourself up on your own desk.

Kmart has rad kids' backpacks for $12 in the shape of either monkeys or owls, with googly eyes. I REPEAT, WITH GOOGLY EYES. I wish there was some excuse for me to carry such a backpack and still be respected by peers and employers, but there isn't, so I'll just move on.

And The Reject Shop has novelty animal-shaped paper clips in packs of 20 for $2. (Ignore the 'Gesture' variety.) Choose from crocodile, pig or rabbit, although the rabbit is my favourite because its haunch is incorporated into the curve of the paper clip.

Contact crafts

Back-to-school is an excellent time to stock up on stationery supplies that you can then use in cool craft projects.

At Big W until 30 January, selected 1m rolls of adhesive book covering are $2.48. These include various prints, plains and metallics. And plain clear contact is just 50c for a 1m roll. Meanwhile at Kmart, 2m rolls of plain coloured contact (colours include purple, aqua, hot pink and apple green) are just $1 a roll.

Here are some DIY projects I like that use contact paper.

Draw on the contact (still with backing paper attached) with textas and cut out the shapes. You've just made your own stickers! (This is a great project for kids.)

Use clear contact to 'frost' over a pane of glass. This design is basically a lot of identical shapes cut out of contact using a stencil, and carefully stuck on the window.

Cut the paper into geometric shapes to make decorative wall decals.

Stick tissue paper to clear contact to make 'stained glass' decorations.

Jazz up an old chest of drawers. (I've also seen this done with a filing cabinet.)

Zany polka-dot walls!

Line an old baking tray with contact and hang on/prop against the wall as a magnet board. Useful for storing notes and documents in other places than the fridge – say, at your desk, or by the phone or the front door.

Easy party bunting!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Things to do with Sharpies

Until 30 January, Big Dubs has multi-packs of Sharpie markers for $5 – either four Stained by Sharpie fabric markers, or five 80's Glam (pink, orange, purple, yellow and green). Meanwhile, Kmart also has the same 80's Glam set for $5, or the entire set of eight fabric markers for $10.

Sharpie clearly recognises that lots of people already use their permanent pens to draw on T-shirts, sneakers, pencil cases and other textiles. The fabric markers supposedly have brighter, more durable ink.

Here are 20 DIY projects you can do with Sharpies. But below are some I particularly like.

Draw on the placket and collar of a plain shirt to make it jaunty.

Colour in some sunglasses.

Apply over the top of your nail polish, then seal in with a topcoat. If you make a mistake, you can erase it using rubbing alcohol.

Bake your colour onto mugs for 30 minutes at 175°C, then let the mugs cool in the oven.

Missoni-esque shoes. ("Missoni-esque" is fast becoming one of my favourite adjectives.)

Jaunty wrapping paper. (The white is white-out.)

Trompe l'oeil ceiling. Sort of in a Howard Arkley way.

Who's a pretty boy, then?

These novelty bird-shaped solar garden lights crack me up! Who even decides, "Yes, let's make some lights on sticks to illuminate the path to people's front doors in the dark, but we'll make them in the shapes of birds that don't come out after dark and, in the case of this toucan, are very unlikely to be found in a suburban Australian garden at all?"

They are 66cm high, including the sticks. The springs on which they're mounted make me suspect they might bobble hilariously. I presume that at night, the birds glow from within like those animal-shaped night lights you put in kids' bedrooms. Wouldn't it be funny if instead they had menacing glowing eyes or something.

If you'd like to create an inexplicable tropical atmosphere in your garden – perhaps as a fun decoration for summer parties – why not get these lights? The set of four birds (cockatoo, macaw, rosella and, uh, toucan – is $20 from The Reject Shop until 27 January. Hell, at these prices, you could invest in an entire flock.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ray says relax

Remember when Ray's Outdoors was called "Ray's Tent City"? These days, rappin' Ray has expanded from camping equipment into home entertaining equipment. And until 3 February, there are some good bargains to be had on summery backyard stuff.

Renaissance 2.7m market umbrellas in coffee or navy are $39 (save $50). I am very interested in this as I have an outdoor table with a hole in the centre, just waiting for a market umbrella.

There's also a variety of hammocks, the cheapest of which is a padded hammock chair for $19. Depicted above is a striped double hammock (weight rated to 180kg); there's also a Mexican-style hammock (a net-style woven hammock in vibrant stripes, weight rated to 150kg). Both are $29 (save, respectively, $10 and $20).

There's also 50% off hammock accessories including chains, pillows, ropes, etc.

If you like industrial-aesthetic metal fans rather than the white plastic sort, there are either high velocity or heavy-duty floor fans for $29 (save $30). I wonder if this is the same sort of fan my brother has in his apartment. Recently my brother's girlfriend demonstrated their fan on its lowest setting and I was blown away by how powerful it was!

Storage boxes for under $25

Some real talk, people. You probably have a lot of stuff. Why not invest in some giant plastic boxes to store it properly?

I've stored my towels and bedlinen in wheeled plastic boxes since I moved into a house that had no cupboard storage. I also have more that I use for socks and tights, sleepwear, stuff I'm putting away to see if I do well enough without it to donate it to charity, and stuff for craft projects.

My bed is high enough off the ground that I can store the boxes underneath and wheel them out when needed, but such boxes are also useful to keep if you have to store things in damp or dusty conditions such as roof lofts, garages and sheds – for instance if you're going away and giving up your house.

At the moment, Officeworks, The Reject Shop and Big Dubs are duking it out as to whose boxes are cheapest. It really depends what size you want.

Officeworks has 9L boxes with white lids in colours including yellow, tangerine (pictured), white, green and blue for $5.97. These are 33cm long, 27cm wide and 14cm high, making them a good size to store books, CDs, DVDs and documents. (Storing books in small boxes is important when it comes to moving them, I have discovered over the years.) You could use the various colours to code the contents.

But you'll pay $6 for a 15L clear roller box at The Reject Shop, and $8 for a 30L box. The Reject Shop also has a wider, flatter 38L underbed box for $12, designed to fit under low beds (not everyone has an old-fashioned high bedstead like me).

For a smallish but still quite roomy 55L box, Officeworks is your best bet – they have clear wheeled boxes that are 54cm long, 31cm wide and 39cm high and cost just $5.97. These are the sort where the handles snap closed against the lid – important when the box is full and you're struggling to get the lid on.

If you'd like coloured rather than clear plastic, Officeworks also has stackable periwinkle blue or red 52L boxes (56.5cm long, 40cm wide and 32.5cm high) for $7.97. Compare this to Big Dubs' 48L clear box for $7.47, and The Reject Shop's 60L clear box for $9.

But when you start to get into larger boxes still, Big Dubs becomes better value. They have an 81L clear(ish) box for $15.86 (compare to Officeworks' equivalent for $20), and a 100L box for $20 (compare to Officeworks' $24.98).

But at The Reject Shop, a 90L box is $15, an a whopping 140L box is $25.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Australiana food

Major retailers tend to assume everyone hosts a massive nationalist fiesta on Australia Day rather than just enjoying a day off work (which is arguably more Aussie). Should you be taking this opportunity to host a picnic, a barbecue or other party on Saturday, here are some true-blue products to buy.

Many ordinary products are getting rebranded with flag motifs to cash in on the day. MasterFoods tomato sauce is now MasterFoods Australian Grown Tomato Sauce in a blue bottle with a red lid. It's currently $2 at Coles (save 99c). Also at Coles, Campbell's Chunky Fully Loaded canned soup has an "Aussie Lamb Casserole" variety with pasta for $2 (save $1.29), and you can get Edgell Aussie-branded canned corn kernels and sliced beetroot for $1 a can (save 49c).

Other quintessentially Australian foodstuffs are also on special at Coles. A twin pack of Twinings Australian Afternoon Tea (that's 200 teabags) is $15 (save $4.99). Excellent value if you drink a lot of tea, and this is a nice variety.

As a treat to have with your Aussie tea, why not pick up some Unibic Anzac Biscuits for $2 (save 95c), a six-pack of Coles Bakery Australia Day Donuts (lemon icing; green sprinkles) for $2, or Coles Lamington Fingers for $1.99 (half price; save $2).

Planning on making a pav? Coles Bakery Pavlovas are currently $7 each (save $2.25), but this is just the meringue shell; you have to add your own cream and fruit.

How about a Chiko Roll? At Woolworths you can get 2 packs for $7 (save $2.38) – that's eight Chiko Rolls to get your fish'n'chippery nostalgia engines revving. Motorbike optional.

And I don't know about you, but there's nothing more old-school Aussie than a platter of kabana and cubed cheese. Head to the deli at Coles, where Don Kabana is $12/kg (save $3.39/kg), while Cracker Barrel Gold Release Cheddar (fancy stuff covered in wax) is $20/kg (save $10/kg). (FYI: toothpicks are $1.63 for 200, and cocktail onions can be had from $1.19.)

Since Victorians are jocularly known as Mexicans, why not have an Australia Day spread including Aldi chicken enchiladas ($5.49 for two) and Tabasco sauce ($1.99).

And on behalf of the Croweaters amongst us, I am pleased to learn that Aldi is selling Coopers Pale Ale six-packs for $12.99. This is great value, considering they're $14.99 at Dan Murphy's.

Australiana paraphernalia

As 26 January approaches, the shops become full of distressing nationalist tat. If you must buy this seasonal stuff, here's where to get it cheaply.

At Aldi you can get giant Aussie flags, just the right size for wearing as a cape (sigh), for a mere $3.99. For the same price Aldi also has coloured face paint, and those obnoxious padded top hats in either green and gold or an Aussie flag design.

They also have T-shirts and singlets for men, women ($4.99) and children ($3.99). Some are more tasteful and subtle than others (one says "Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi!!"; another one says "Young Hot and AUSSIE"). The kids' ones are actually the cutest – you could mistake them for ordinary surfwear tees.

If you're after some Australiana swimwear, Big Dubs has flag-print men's board shorts for $9.94, and girls' or boys' board shorts for $8.92. As with Aldi, the kids' ones are the least obnoxious – I especially like the boys' shorts, which have an abstract flag pattern in red, white and blue rather than the depressing navy-with-the-Union-Jack-and-stars that's par for the course in nationalist apparel.

Big Dubs' women's swimwear is a little better than your bog-standard triangle bikinis – a cute bandeau bikini with halter tie and a red ruffle decoration is $14.98. The pants are plain navy with red ties; the Southern Cross is emblazoned on the left boob. For the less exhibitionist, but at the same price, there's a rash vest and a navy halter-neck 'tankini' with the Aussie flag across the right hip.

Aldi is boasting that its thongs – either ladies' sizes in an Aussie flag design or unisex in plain black – are 15% cheaper than last year. They're $1.69.

Aldi also has Aussie flag beach towels for $8.99, and Aussie flag beach chairs for $9.99. But at Big Dubs, similar chairs are just $7.88.

Oh god, where does the Aldi merch stop! Australia Day golf umbrellas for $7.99! Stubby holders! Picnic rugs! Big Dubs also has a ridiculous thong-shaped inflatable pool toy for $10, and to mitigate against road-rage incidents by bogans, an Aussie flag for your car for $2.

But if you're planning a more tasteful and less jingoistic public holiday, perhaps Aldi's four-person wicker picnic basket set is for you. It's one of those nice ones with a gingham lining, leatherette straps and an insulated cooler section. It includes four sets of stainless-steel knives, forks and spoons; four melamine plates; four plastic wine glasses; four cotton napkins; and a bottle opener (IMPORTANT). All for $49.99.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Treat yourself to Nutella

1 jar of Nutella + 1 spoon = guilty pleasure. I guess you could also spread it on bread if you must.

I have been very disciplined and haven't had Nutella in the house for many years, but this special at Coles could lure me back to the dark-brown side. A 400g jar of Ferrero's seductive choc hazelnut spread is $3.50 (save $1.19). On sale until 29 January.

Meanwhile at Woolworths, the larger 750g jar is $5 (save $2.59) until 22 January. This is a better deal, as it works out to 67c per 100g, versus Coles' 88c. However, you are really committing to Nutella if you let that baby into your house.